What is a Swedish Massage?
The Swedish massage is currently one of the most desired massages in the United States. Invented in the early 19th century by Swedish fencing instructor, Per Henrik Ling, and brought to the United States in the 1850s, this massage involves utilizing techniques including gentle stretches, long sweeping strokes, rhythmic tapping and muscle kneading, friction, and body vibrations all together. This procedure helps release muscle cramps and tenses, ultimately relaxing the entire body. Each Swedish massage session lasts about 30-60 minutes, depending on what the client prefers.
How to Prepare for a Swedish Massage?
Properly preparing for a Swedish massage, or any type of massage, is helpful and can assist both you and your therapist.
Hydrate Both Before and After the Session
Firstly, it is important to hydrate both before and after a Swedish massage appointment. Drinking plenty of water before and after a massage is recommended because although a massage enhances your oxygen and blood circulation, it is dehydrating in nature.
The reason why it is dehydrating is because a Swedish massage breaks up, releases and loosens all forms of toxins that have built up in your muscles.
Your body works in order to do this; therefore, in order to assist your body in this process, it is important to stay hydrated both before and after your massage, to help completely flush out those released toxins.
Wear Loose and Comfortable Clothing for Your Swedish Massage
Secondly, you should wear loose and comfortable clothing when you prepare for a Swedish massage, in order to begin your process of relaxation. You will naturally be asked to undress, to the level of your comfort, in order to begin the process of the Swedish massage. This is essential because it allows the therapist to conduct the specific massage techniques necessary to perform a successful session with effective results.
Following the massage, you may feel tender in certain areas, depending on both the intensity of your massage and your physical activity prior to the massage- a factor pertaining to muscle soreness. Wearing loose and comfortable after your Swedish massage session is recommended because it allows you to feel at complete ease.
Make Sure to Breathe Normally During Your Session
Thirdly, it is important to breathe normally during your session; relaxing both your body and mind is key to receiving the best results out of your massage session.
Communicate With Your Therapist
Fourthly and lastly, don’t forget to communication with your therapist. Your massage therapists strives to make you feel your best. In addition, different therapists will perform slightly different body pressures; it is important for you to communicate if you are feeling any level of discomfort in terms of pressure, or if you desire a stronger pressure for your body type, in order to reduce your muscle tensions.
Your therapist will want to accommodate your physical needs. Another reason why it is important to communicate with your massage therapist is concerning any allergies that you may have. A Swedish massage requires the use of friction against your body with the use of essential oils; therefore it is important to identify your allergies prior to the massage.
The Procedure of a Swedish Massage?
A Swedish massage requires certain equipment.
This equipment firstly includes a massage surface, which may be a professional massage table or any type of well-padded and firm surface that will allow the body to rest without unnecessary movement.
Secondly, a Swedish massage it requires a clean sheet, in order to cover body parts that will not be massaged.
Thirdly, it requires cushions that may possibly be needed, depending on the client and his or her wishes, in order to prevent any forms of potential lower back pains that may arise.
Fourthly, a Swedish massage requires oils; the base oil for the massage is recommended to be a cold pressured vegetable oil that contains fatty acids, vitamins, nutrients a minerals.
The oil should also be unrefined and free of additives, that does not clog the pores the way that mineral oils would. Additional relaxation may be added by using essential aromatic oils to perform the techniques of this Swedish massage. It is important for the oils to be warmed before they are applied to the client’s skin–something that is commonly done on the massage therapist’s hands. What makes the Swedish massage different from other types of massages is that the Swedish massage has a specific order of techniques that are used to relieve the body.
The massage begins with the application of oil, to nourish the skin and allow for the gliding movement of the first technique: effleurage. Effleurage consists of long gliding strokes towards the heart, alternating between light pressure and firm pressure, performed by using both the fingertips and the palm of the hand. What this first technique does is conclusively break down muscle tension and muscle knots, which if left unhealed could possibly cause additional symptoms, such as lower back pain, jaw pain, tension headaches, and ringing in one’s ear.
The second technique is called petrissage: this technique involved kneading the muscles of the body by specifically rolling, lifting and squeezing the the muscles between and under the hands, to ultimately prepare these body parts for the Swedish massage techniques that are to follow. Petrissage not only improves the body’s blood flow, but also increases lymphatic drainage.
The third technique of the Swedish massage is called friction. This friction technique tends to work on the deeper parts of the muscles, that the previous techniques did not. This pressure stroke is the deepest form that us used in a Swedish massage. Through the pressure that the therapist applies on the body, via placing his or her body weight to the very flat of the entire hand and rubbing onto the skin wi
th continuous gliding circular motions, produces heat. This heat produced via friction warms the muscles of the body and allows for a deeper massage treatment.
The fourth technique is called vibration. This technique of vibration effectively loosens up the muscles of the body, as the massage therapist gently uses his or her fingertips, or heels of his or her hand, to create vibrations through back and forth movements. The massage therapist does this on a specific spot on the body, consecutively moving to different spots through repetition. This technique is designed to release built up muscle tension in small areas of muscle, such as those along the spine, or those on the face.
The fifth and final technique used in this series of the techniques of the Swedish massage is called tapotement. Tapotement requires the rhythmic percussion and tapping of the muscles of the body, using the massage therapist’s cupped hand or fingertips.
This not only helps to loosen and relax the tight muscles of the body, but energizes and tones them as well. There are three basic variations that can be used for this technique.
The first one is called cupping, in which the therapist cups his or her hands, while remaining his or her fingertips straight, bending only at his or her lower knuckles. The thumbs are kept close to the massage therapist’s palms. The therapist then strikes the flesh via quick and sharp succession movements.
The second variation is called hacking. This is a technique that is quite similar to the technique of cupping; however, in this technique, the therapist uses the sides of his or her hands to perform the sharp and quick movement of succession.
The third variation is called pummeling. In this technique, the therapist loosens both of his or her fists and this way performs rapid movements of succession over the body’s buttocks and thighs.
What To Expect at a Swedish Massage?
A Swedish massage ultimately relaxes the entire body, helping you to manage pain better, improving and nourishing your skin, reducing stress,and finally, reducing fatigue and giving you the energy boost that you have been long needing.
Swedish Massage Helps you Manage Pain Better
Studies have suggested that a Swedish massage can to a great extent relieve chronic body aches and pains, and could in actuality be at least as effective as undergoing standard medical care in the treatment of chronic pain areas including but not limited to the shoulders, the neck and the back. The way that a Swedish massage is able to help you manage pain better and especially in the long-run has to fo with the way that it i
s able to enhance your blood and oxygen flow, this way aiding in the removal of excess lactic acid formed in the muscles long after anaerobic exercise. This is what causes muscle soreness and the techniques used in a Swedish massage ultimately alleviate this pain.
If a Swedish massage is performed periodically on an especially stressed or active body, the excess lactic acid creating sore muscles will gradually lessen, not only alleviating pain, but also helping in the better functioning of muscle formation, as you allow your body to have a quicker muscle recovery time. For this reason, having regular Swedish massages are especially recommended to professional athletes; to increase their flexibility and range of motion and allow them to have a faster recovery time in terms of strains muscle aches, this way allowing them to fundamentally perform to the best of their capabilities.
Swedish Massage can Improve Your Skin
The techniques used in a Swedish massage create an increase in blood and oxygen flow, allowing the body, and especially the skin, to flush out toxins. This way, the nutrients in your blood are able to nourish the skin cells faster and more effectively. This form of nourishment that occurs allows your skin to return to its healthiest most regenerative form, replacing older skin cells with new and healthier ones and making the skin retain moisture easier. In addition, the friction created from the massaging of the skin during the Swedish massage eliminates the very top layer of your skin cells that contribute to skin dullness, this way leaving you with a natural glow! Your skin becomes healthier and more youthful-looking instantly, as impurities and tension are removed, leaving you completely refreshed and restored.
Swedish Massage can Reduce Stress
Stress; a cause of so many problems in our everyday lives. It is not necessarily a certain event that causes us to stress, but our body’s responses to the event that actually causes the stress. Nevertheless, stress is something that all of us strive to eliminate from our daily lives, and a Swedish massage is one of those ways that help us do exactly that. When our brains sense any form of stress being awakened, both our heart rates and our blood pressure rise, causing our muscles to tighten. Prolonged feelings of stress that continue for long periods of time truly have detrimental effects on our minds and bodies. Swedish massages are known to not only reduce stress, but to also reduce anxiety and depression all together.
The techniques used in a Swedish massage alleviate muscle and joint pain, this way allowing the muscle to return to a relaxed state, which in turn reduces any of your stress-related pains or aches. The effect that a Swedish massage has ultimately in a way resets your body by returning it to a relaxed state, this way simultaneously returning your mind to a relaxed state as well; as your mind and body are synched in unison. Decreasing your stress levels, finally, inevitably increase your energy levels, allowing you to perform your daily tasks under a more positive and motivated mindset.
Swedish Massage Can Give you Energy
A Swedish Massage can reduce fatigue that is caused not only from muscle use and a long day, but also from fatigue caused by illness. It is important to note that fatigue is linked to both stress and depression; thus, alleviating both of these symptoms through techniques used in a Swedish massage in turn increase energy levels and decrease fatigue. A study called “Impact of Massage Therapy on Fatigue, Pain, and Spasticity in People with Multiple Sclerosis: a Pilot Study,” published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork suggests that a Swedish massage can in actuality decrease fatigue levels significantly.
This pilot study concluded that having a regular Swedish massage is a safe and truly beneficial intervention for management of both fatigue and pain. It is important to emphasize the positive effects that reducing both fatigue and pain have on one’s lifestyle and quality of life. This study, in addition to other numerous studies conducted concerning the correlation between pain, fatigue and a Swedish massage therapy, show that the techniques used in such a massage greatly increase energy, decrease fatigue levels, and enhance our overall quality of life.